Evergreen Cooperatives- Cleveland, OH

There are recent efforts in distressed inner cities in Cleveland, Milwaukee and Atlanta in which anchor institutions have collaborated with foundations to create worker-owned cooperatives, employing neighborhood people to serve the needs of anchor institutions such as hospitals and universities. The most developed of these is the Evergreen Cooperative group in Cleveland. The Democracy Collaborative consultants who have played a leading role in Cleveland are also working in Milwaukee and Atlanta. Their website (www.community-wealth.org) has information not only on their efforts, but on a wide array of other community wealth building efforts. The Democracy Collaborative’s Research Director, Steve Dubb, serves on the C2BE Board of Directors.

  • High profile, top-down, foundation-led development process
  • Organizers were the entrepreneurs - came up with the concepts, wrote business plans, got capital
  • Organizers (Anchor Institutions and the Developers they hired) remain as majority board members for several years
  • Hired workers as employees on track to become owners after 1 year (this is how most worker co-ops bring in new members once established)
  • Workers were found through a local work readiness training center
  • Hired an outside manager for each business to be replaced from within the workforce after 3 years
  • Evergreen has a central organization that supports the existing co-ops and helps develop new ones; each co-op puts 10% of its profits into this organization